Apple now offers three different flavors of Apple Watch. The Series 6 is without a doubt the best and most expensive option, starting at $399. But for the first time Apple is selling two cheaper Apple Watch models. There's the all-new Apple Watch SE that starts at $279 and the three-year old Apple Watch Series 3 that starts at $199 — so what exactly is the difference between the two? Well, there's quite a lot.
At $199, the Apple Watch Series 3 is $80 cheaper than the Apple Watch SE, and despite the fact that it is another year older, Apple hasn't dropped its price. The main thing is that the Series 3 is now three years old and still has the old design. Remember, the Series 4 was the first Apple Watch with the substantial redesign, with the larger display and slimmed down bezels, so the Series 3 definitely is going to feel like an old design.
The Series 3 does have a built-in GPS and an optical heart sensor, just like the one found in the Series SE, so it's good for fitness tracking and it's also able to record your heart rate. However, the Series 3 lacks the always-on altimeter and the built-in compass, so it's probably not as great of hikers and outdoors enthusiasts.
Also, Apple just recently discontinued the Series 3's cellular model, meaning you can only buy a GPS-only model from now on. If you are somebody who likes to leave your iPhone behind when you workout or go for runs, the Series 3 won't be able to send you smartphone notifications.
Both watches can take advantages of the new features of watchOS 7, like as sleep tracking, and they both have the same battery life of up to 18 hours. Neither have an always-on display. If you're looking for the cheapest option, the Series 3 is still a good deal. However, I'd argue for just $80 extra, the Apple SE is definitely worth it. You're getting a better-looking smartwatch that's also a little more versatile.